Kurtz: Pundits Rarely Right This Time Around

Earlier today, Howard Kurtz held his weekly chat. In this election-heavy edition, he covered such topics as the media’s oft-debunked conventional wisdom, press coverage of the Feb. 5 primaries, and former president Bill Clinton’s controversial statement about Sen. Barack Obama’s victory in the South Carolina primary. Some excerpts:

    Reading, Pa.: Does it strike you as a tad overdone with this pundit and that pundit rehashing the same old conventional “wisdom” about this election? I’m a real political junkie but even I have had enough.

    Howard Kurtz: It would be one thing if the conventional wisdom was — what’s the word — right. Instead, we had Hillary anointed, Hillary toast in New Hampshire, Obama expected to win SC by a modest margin, McCain dead and buried last summer, Thompson certain to become a leading contender…Come to think of it, the list of what the pundits have gotten right is much shorter.

    Washington: How will the press handle the nearly two dozen states that will vote on Feb. 5? For example, I think it’s safe to assume that Clinton will perform well in places like New York and New Jersey, while Obama has the advantage in Illinois. Really the only big state up for grabs is California, but that still leaves about 18 states where I really have no idea who is going to come out on top.

    Howard Kurtz: It will be a blur. Obviously, the winner of mega-states like California will get a lot of media credit, but we’re really going to have to get our calculators out and figure out who picked up the most delegates. If that figure is close, then “winning” this or that state won’t matter as much.

    Albany, N.Y.: Do you agree that Bill Clinton’s “Jesse Jackson” remark seemed to make clear that in fact he was attempting to divide the electorate along racial lines with his behavior during the week?

    Howard Kurtz: I was surprised that Bill Clinton brought up Jesse Jackson having won SC in the 1980s, which seemed to minimize Obama’s huge win by suggesting that black candidates do well in the state because of its large African-American population. After all, Obama not only got a respectable 24 percent of the white vote, he was tied with Hillary among white men. Besides, the state had already voted at that point, so I’m not sure I see any upside to the former president’s remark.